Sunday, December 28, 2014


Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

My thirteen year old son Anthony asked to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" the other night as he claimed never to have seen it start to finish. Of course I happily obliged.  While watching it I thought about how much has been written about the Frank Capra's classic.  I thought about my own ideas - especially with a pro-life angle, but the idea that I could add something new might be a challenge. But the next day there was a post with this picture of Clarence sitting on the log and George Bailey looking at the angel second class. My friend Sue Joan had shared her thoughts similar to mine about what Clarence said, that is,  how many children are lost who could have made such a difference in the world.  With that came the notion that "It's a Wonderful Life" may be the most powerful pro-life movie ever made.

We all know the story about George Bailey, the fellow who time and again sacrifices for the sake of others, who at times is miserable wishing he could do the things he always wanted to do and yet happy in having helped so many realize the dignity of their humanity. Many have written on the dark side of the film, the frustrations, the angst, the disappointments and the selfish side of human nature. At the same time the film conveys a realism especially in the dream sequence when George Bailey is given a vision of the town had he not been born.

This impact one person's life can have upon a family, a community, a society is universally recognized both in art and literature.  So why in today's upscale and ever expanding society, is this concept ignored or missed by so many at every age level?  Have we become so myopic to miss the amazing perspective that each of us has an effect on those around us and that for the most part that effect is a good thing?  Have we tuned out this message?  Why are we not realizing this on an everyday level?

Clarence points out to George, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

Those of us committed to the pro-life movement have seen this little scene played out so many different times in so many different situations.  Yet there are still so many good people who simply do not connect the dots and see how this fundamental respect for the human person must be the cornerstone of our moral foundation.  Whether one is a politician or a voter,  a minister or a union steward, a lack of respect for the human person is the cancer that destroys a culture. And the concern we wish others to show toward the immigrant, the refugee, the elderly or poor must be rooted in something transcendent that starts with the unborn child.  How can we then ask people to care about someone half way around the globe, if we do not respect the unborn child? How can we call upon people to look beyond the color of another person's skin, if aborting them is a part of a government population control philosophy?

How can we teach restraint in the exercise of power, if there is no universal moral code?
What the movie can remind us to do is to look deep within ourselves and imagine a world without someone dear to us? Then realize that there are thousands of children every day denied the opportunity to make a difference.  There are thousands of mothers every day who will live with the regret of their actions because we as a society did not reach out to help. 
Fortunately most of us do identify with George Bailey.  We like to think of ourselves as caring and generous.  Watching the movie allows us to claim that mantle.  We really want to  be that friend who will be there to help our neighbor.  So let us make a resolution for 2015. Let us be George Bailey in our world.  Let us reach out an help the unwed mother and child by supporting the local pregnancy resource center. Let us demand our priests, ministers, pastors and religious leaders speak clearly on the moral imperative to act in justice and mercy.  Let us pick one thing within this pro-life work that will make a real difference - for example - how many beds are available in your community to house homeless pregnant mothers.  Perhaps if each church or parish could support a location with four beds, there would be "room at the Inn."

In a similar vein, the need to educate at the local level is so critical. Perhaps a series of presentations would instill greater understanding of the issue at all different levels. Just as George Bailey had to explain to the customers during  the run on the bank where their money was and how it was being use, so too both clergy and politician need to understand the primary role of a pro-life position and how to influence others.

Ultimately we need to take that pro-life message contained in "It's a Wonderful Life" and apply it to our own lives.  As  George remarked about his father's beliefs,  "People were human beings to him," we need to live this mantra. From the womb to the tomb,  all human life is sacred.   Every human being has a reason and purpose for being.  We must remind our neighbors of this notion.  Using a film such as It's a Wonderful Life" is one such way.